We’re less than two weeks away from the return of AMC’s hit zombie drama The Walking Dead. What that means for fans it that we’ll be inundated with trailers, clips, commercials, photos, and, starting today, a new series of web shorts called “The Oath.” Conceived, produced, and directed by special effects guru Greg Nicotero (who oddly enough directed an episode of the main series last season also called “The Oath”), these three episodes, like similar previous offerings, aim to give you a quick glimpse at different aspects of the zombie apocalypse, and remind you that Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and company aren’t the only ones to make it through. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these dovetail into the new Walking Dead spinoff series that the network recently announced.
The first eight-minute installment of “The Oath” starts off with an image that will be familiar to fans. The woman cradling the corpse of a loved one in the middle of a makeshift campsite is eerily similar to that of Andrea (Laurie Holden) holding her dead sister, waiting for her to come back so that she can kill her again, from early in the first season of The Walking Dead.
The woman in question, Karina (Ashley Bell, The Day) and Paul (Wyatt Russell, Cowboys & Aliens) are the last survivors after a massive horde of walkers swarms over their camp. Alone, injured, and with little more than the clothes on their backs, the duo must make their way across country to find medical help of they have any hope of continuing to live. Only problem is, every place they find has been hopelessly overrun.
In episode two, they meet a fellow survivor, who, in the longstanding tradition of The Walking Dead, may or may not be a godsend. She seems great at first, but gets creepier and creepier as you go. We know that some survivors can be actually good, like Hershel (Scott Wilson) and his people, but we’re also well aware that there are folks like the Governor (David Morrissey) lurking out there. Where will this new one fall? It won’t take you long to figure out that there’s something not right with this lady.
Eventually you realize that you’ve been here before, to this very hospital. It’s been years, but you’d recognize those abandoned hallways and that door anywhere, wouldn’t you? So now you see how it all ties into the larger picture, but what other surprises wait in store?
Clocking in at just over ten minutes, the third chapter of “The Oath” is easily the longest. As you can imagine, this is the part where Karina’s outlook takes a turn towards the grim side of things. There’s lots of talk about watching your friends be torn apart, going out on your terms, and what the hell are you even living for anyway? You know, real sunny, uplifting subjects.
While “The Oath” is a decent enough distraction, and should help sate rabid fans until The Walking Dead returns for season four on Sunday, October 13, you can’t shake the feeling that this is territory that has already been covered, both literally and figuratively. You can appreciate that Luke Passmore’s script is trying to go the route of Robert Kirkman’s comics—hard moral choices and moody atmosphere rather than all out zombie action—but these shorts never quite deliver. This is nice, but underwhelming.